Should you buy branded pods for your Dolce Gusto coffee machine, or can compatible pods offer tastier, better-value coffee?
Until relatively recently, owners of Dolce Gusto coffee machines had been restricted to using Dolce Gusto’s official range of branded coffee pods, which can be pricey. But now an increasing number of third-party Dolce Gusto-compatible coffee pods are becoming available, giving owners of Dolce Gusto coffee machines more choice over the coffee they drink.
Most are supermarket own-brand options, which are cheaper than Dolce Gusto pods, so switching could lead to big savings for regular coffee drinkers. One supermarket pod could save you more than £70 a year compared with the official Dolce Gusto version, based on having two coffees per day.
We asked a panel of expert coffee tasters to blind-taste and rate Nescafé Dolce Gusto pods alongside compatible pods from brands such as Aldi, Asda, Costa, Lidl and Starbucks. Below, we reveal the best options for Americano and latte drinkers. Not sure which coffee pod system is right for you?
Check our best pod machine buying guide for advice on how Nespresso, Dolce Gusto and more compare.
Best Americano pods for Dolce Gusto coffee machines
Our expert tasting panel blind-tasted Americano pods from Dolce Gusto, Costa and Starbucks alongside cheaper compatible options from budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl. Overall, they found that all the drinks came out too weak and suggested making a smaller coffee to give a stronger taste. But some options fared better than others.
Dolce Gusto vs compatible Latte pods
As well as Americanos, there are compatible versions of latte and cappuccino Dolce Gusto pods available for fans of milky coffees. These come with a second pod that contains milk powder, which is used to make the milk froth. We asked our panel to assess these, too, to find out how the cheaper compatible pods compare. Our panel liked the Dolce Gusto, Starbucks Latte Macchiato and Costa Signature Blend Latte best, but thought the cheaper Lidl and Aldi latte pods had an unpleasant artificial sweetness that didn’t compare well to coffee made with fresh milk.
How we tested Dolce Gusto pods
We asked a panel of coffee experts to blind-taste and rate a range of Dolce Gusto-compatible pods. Our panel of independent coffee experts included:
Giles Hilton – panel head, coffee specialist with 40 years’ tasting experience Colin Smith – artisan coffee roaster and former president of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe Charles Love – tea and coffee product expert and trainer Mike Nunn – head of training at Monmouth Coffee Co, which has been roasting and selling coffee since 1978 We made each coffee using a Best Buy Dolce Gusto machine and asked our experts to taste it both with and without milk.
They rated the aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel, sweetness and aftertaste of each coffee. These ratings were then combined into an overall percentage score.
Choosing the best pod coffee machine
Not sure what type of coffee machine is right for you? There are several types of pod coffee machine, most of which just work with one type of coffee pod, such as Nespresso or Dolce Gusto, which limits your options to the range available for that brand. Nespresso has the most extensive range of compatible pods, but Dolce Gusto oprions are becoming more common. See our best coffee pod machine buying guide for advice on choosing the best system for you.